Security Council establishes observer mission (UNSMIS) with 300 officials to monitor implementation of Kofi Annan plan—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #28 (April 22)

Adoption of Security Council Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012)

On Saturday, April 21, the United Nations Security Council adopted by a unanimous vote Resolution 2043, which establishes for an initial period of 90 days a 300-person observer mission to monitor an end to violence in Syria and full implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan, as called for in Security Council Resolution 2042 adopted on April 14. See

U.N. Press Release SC/10618 (April 21) on Security Council Adoption of Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012) establishing observer mission of 300 unarmed monitors to oversee compliance with an end to violence in Syria and full implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan. However, their mandate is to observe, not to protect.

The text of Security Council Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012) is contained in the press statement cited above, and may be found here.

Regarding the April 14 resolution and its adoption, see

The provisional oral record of the April 14 meeting at which the Security Council adopted Resolution 2042 (U.N. Doc. S/PV.6751) is found here.

The official text of Security Council Resolution 2042 (April 14, 2012) (S/RES/2042 (2012) is found here.

The April 21 resolution came two and a half months and thousands of lives after Russia and China vetoed a resolution with similar objectives on February 4, 2012.

The provisional oral record of the February 4, 2012 Security Council meeting (U.N. Doc. S/PV.6711) is found here.

The February 4, 2012 draft resolution (U.N. Doc. S/2012/77) approved by 13 members but vetoed by Russia and China (13-2-0) is found here.

A Euphemism to End All Euphemisms

In a euphemism to end all euphemisms, the Security Council stated the following in the Resolution’s preambular clauses:

Noting the Syrian government’s commitment on 25 March 2012 to implement the six-point proposal of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, and to implement urgently and visibly its commitments, as it agreed to do in its communication to the Envoy of 1 April 2012, to (a) cease troop movements towards population centres, (b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centres, and (c) begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres, and to implement these in their entirety by no later than 10 April 2012, and noting also the Syrian opposition’s expressed commitment to respect the cessation of violence, provided the government does so,

Expressing concern over ongoing violence and reports of casualties which have escalated again in recent days, following the Envoy’s assessment of 12 April 2012 that the parties appeared to be observing a cessation of fire and that the Syrian government had started to implement its commitments, and noting that the cessation of armed violence in all its forms is therefore clearly incomplete,…”

Well, I guess that is one way to describe the utter perfidy of Bashar al-Assad and the ongoing and wanton commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Syrian government since April 1, and even since the cesefire deadline of April 10.

But in diplomacy and international politics, words count. They count because if we don’t listen to what we are saying, we enter into an Orwellian world in which nothing makes sense and words have lost their meaning.

Let’s read the words again, slowly:

“and noting that the cessation of armed violence in all its forms is therefore clearly incomplete,…(emphasis added)

“Clearly incomplete?”  This is Orwellian language at its greatest heights. It should come as no surprise that it comes from the Russians, who have unparalled experience in the field of propaganda in general, and Orwellian language in particular.  Resolution 2043 was in fact based on the Russian draft.

The euphemism itself is utterly revealing–lighting up the countryside like lightning flashes on a dark and rainy evening, or military flares in night combat.

It illuminates in sharp relief the stark difference between “diplomatic reality” and “diplomatic time”, on the one hand, and the devastating real-world reality represented by the ongoing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by al-Assad, in real time, on the other.

In the this real-world reality, such crimes have tragic consequences not only for the individual human beings who are killed and wounded, but also for their immediate and extended families. They also have serious moral consequences for the feckless spectators who are in a position to act to halt the atrocities, but do nothing effective to do so.

Individual human lives count.

If we ever lose our belief that this is true, we will be lost, and the horrors of the first half of the 20th century will become not only historical memories, but also future prophecies.

The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS)

In its key operative provisions, Resolution 243 provides:

“The Security Council

5. Decides to establish for an initial period of 90 days a United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) under the command of a Chief Military Observer, comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component as required by the Mission to fulfil its mandate,

“6. Decides also that the mandate of the Mission shall be to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of the Envoy’s six-point proposal;

“8. Calls upon the Syrian government to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS by: facilitating the expeditious and unhindered deployment of its personnel and capabilities as required to fulfil its mandate; ensuring its full, unimpeded, and immediate freedom of movement and access as necessary to fulfil its mandate, underlining in this regard the need for the Syrian government and the United Nations to agree rapidly on appropriate air transportation assets for UNSMIS; allowing its unobstructed communications; and allowing it to freely and privately communicate with individuals throughout Syria without retaliation against any person as a result of interaction with UNSMIS;

“9. Calls upon the parties to guarantee the safety of UNSMIS personnel without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access, and stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities;

“11. Reiterates its call for the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance and calls upon all parties in Syria, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;

The Resolution also calls for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to report to the security Council on implementation of the resolution every 15 days.

Following adoption of the resolution by a unanimous vote, a number of ambassadors spoke regarding the resolution and the situation in Syria. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stated the following (according to the summary of her remarks provided in the press statement):

SUSAN RICE (United States) said she was sober about the risks, given the Assad regime’s long record of basic disregard for humanity. Deployment of 300 or even 3,000 observers could not stop the Assad regime from its murderous acts. Only extensive external pressure could bring an end to them. The Syrian Government said it had welcomed observers on the ground, as they would be impartial. Even more so, the Syrian people expected and deserved that the Council stand behind today’s resolution and impose consequences, if the Syrian regime failed to honour its commitments. The regime had unleashed yet another wave of horrific violence against its own people. The use of shelling and heavy weaponry, particularly in Homs, had reached levels that surpassed those registered before the ceasefire. The status of thousands of detainees remained clear. There had been little progress on the issue of humanitarian access. An estimated 1 million civilians were still in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The Council had called on the Syrian Government to take concrete action. The United States’ patience was exhausted.

“Let me be plain. No one should assume that the United States will agree to resume this mission at the end of 90 days if there is not a cessation of violence, full freedom of movement for United Nations personnel and considerable progress on the ground,” she said. Absent that “then we must all conclude that this mission has run its course”. She expressed gratitude for the work of the monitors for embarking on this unprecedented and risky mission. They were going to be responsible for security and would be deployed in the midst of protestors desperate for protection that observers were not mandated to provide. That would give rise to expectations that they were not prepared to meet. All experiences in United Nations peacekeeping over the past six decades showed that there must be a peace to keep. The Syrian opposition said that they wanted the United Nations and hoped that it would have a restraining effect on the Syrian Government, enabling them to act and speak freely. If that did not happen, then the regime must be held accountable. The United States strongly supported full implementation of the six-point plan. “Let there be no doubt. We, our allies, and others in this body are planning for those actions that will be required by all of us if the Assad regime persists in the slaughter of the Syrian people,” she said.

Rice points to a central flaw in the peace monitor scheme.  The monitors cannot stop the atrocities, or even protect people who are being subjected to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The resolution, in effect, sets up a Srebrenice-like situation, where U.N. forces are present, but have no way to protect the population they are sent to observe.

Now Bashar al-Assad may have another month or two, or longer, to play games with the U.N. Observer Mission, while his army and state security officials continue to hunt down opponents to the regime.  Russia is obviously quite happy with this arrangement.  Putin eats Obama’s lunch, again.

The Observer certainly hopes that this does not prove to be the case. But we must all keep our eyes wide open, and focused on what is taking place on the ground. There is a history with al-Assad here, and there are lessons to be learned from this history.

Will Bashar Al-Assad Have to be Taken Down Like a Mad Dog?

With reports of continued fighting on April 23, the thought occurs that it may be that al-Assad will have to be taken down like a mad dog.

See Syria accused of hiding tanks from UN observers
Loveday Morris (Beirut), The Independent, 23 April 2012.

If there is ever a moment when the West and the Arab countries and the international community decide to act to stop al-Assad, they certainly have the means to do so.  The United States, for example, has an armory of cruise missiles which could give Bashar and Maher al-Assad a real wake-up call, on short order.  These steps could be taken without committing to an open-ended military engagement. The U.S. also possesses drones and special forces units, which if ever authorized to do so, could make Bashar al-Assad’s life very complicated indeed.

The legal arguments that would support military intervention in Syria in the absence of Security Council authorization would also appear to justify going after the command and control facilities and assets that are directing the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

See The Trenchant Observer, “Humanitarian Intervention in Syria Without Security Council Authorization—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #24 (April 8),” April 8, 2012, and articles cited therein.

Perhaps it could become so complicated that, if al-Assad wants to avoid Moammar Qadaffi’s fate, he would be well advised to exit the scene now, on the best terms he can get.  They will surely be much harsher in the future.

The Trenchant Observer

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer on this topic, and others, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.